Same-day services available at all Central Alabama VA facilities

Same-day services available at all Central Alabama VA facilities
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System)
(Source: Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Efforts continue to improve veterans' access to healthcare with a new initiative that provides same-day services.

The VA is undergoing the largest transformation in its history by establishing "MyVA Access."

Under the initiative, every VA medical center across the country will be offering same-day access for primary care and mental health by December.

Same-day services are already available at all of the facilities in the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHCS), which is compromised of medical centers in Montgomery and Tuskegee and community-based outpatient clinics in Dothan, Montgomery, Monroe, and Wiregrass in Alabama as well as Columbus and Ft. Benning in Georgia.

CAVHCS came under fire for falsified records to hide true appointment wait times for veterans, which were some of the worst in the country.

Ever since the national Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014 exposed problems at CAVHCS, the two-campus healthcare system has worked to shine a light back on efforts to improve its services.

"We are moving forward. We are no longer looking in the rear view mirror," said Brett Robbins with the CAVHCS Public Affairs Office. "Just a couple of days ago, I received word from a veteran who needed to be seen by his primary care provider and he walked into our new clinic on Chantilly Parkway and he was seen within 15 minutes of when he first checked in. We are seeing that same day access for primary care and mental health working for Central Alabama."

CAVHCS released this information on same-day services:

Ultimately, when veterans require primary care assistance right away, during regular business hours, they are able to get services the same day or if after hours, by the next day from a VA Medical Center or Health Care Center.

"Our veterans can be seen within the day that they present without an appointment," Robbins said. "If you need to be seen today, we're going to see you so please come on in."

In recent months, the Montgomery VA Regional Benefits Office and the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System united to give a progress report.

It was revealed that a new system is being used to process claims faster and that critical staffing positions were filled, resulting in the hiring of more than 160 people.

Officials said they've also been able to cut the average time to process a compensation and pension exam by nearly two weeks.

Five priorities were listed: access, employee engagement, high performance network, best practices and trust in VA care.

Recent statistics showed the average wait time for completed appointments has been reduced by more than half in the past year, while the number of voluntary referrals to outside doctors has skyrocketed into the thousands - up from only 56 a year ago.

CAVHCS is also working to make clinic operations more efficient, increasing the use of telehealth, and "addressing critical components necessary for the delivery of a seamless community care experiences."

A new CAVHCS director, Dr. Linda Boyle, starts this month.

Boyle most recently served as the interim director and associate director for patient care services at the Alaska VA Healthcare System. She is a retired colonel of the United States Air Force.

Congresswoman Martha Roby remains engaged in keeping the Central Alabama VA accountable for needed improvements. Roby plans to meet with Dr. Boyle in the coming weeks.

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